It’s been a busier than usual week for bees. According to an October 3 story in the Washington Post, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to put seven species of yellow-faced bees, all native to Hawaii, on the Endangered Species List – the first time bees have been so designated.
These bees – whose name derives from their distinctive yellow-white facial coloration — pollinate many of Hawaii’s trees and shrubs, and are key to maintaining the health and diversity of the state’s forests.
Also on October 3, the Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution declaring the state’s largest metropolis a “Bee Friendly City,” according to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The resolution was designed “to encourage and promote urban beekeeping and to raise awareness of the importance of bees to our environment.” More than 200 apiaries are registered in Philadelphia County, and the city itself is where the “removable-frame hive was invented in 1851,” the Inquirer reports.
Back to Hawaii and the Endangered Species List. According to the Post, it took almost a decade to achieve the Endangered Species designation. Karl Magnacca, a Hawaii-based entomologist who helped research the bees for the Oregon-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, told the Associated Press that the designation “is excellent news for these bees, but there is much work that needs to be done to ensure that [they] thrive.”
The article also notes that while honeybees get most of the bee-centered publicity because of their pollination efforts, some scientists contend that wild bees deserve just as much attention, “even if fewer wild species are responsible for crop pollination.” Native bees also help maintain habitats for other species.
Interesting fact: The Xerces Society is named after the Xerces blue butterfly, “the first butterfly known to go extinct in North America as a result of human activities,” Magnacca told the AP, the Post reported.
Butterflies are pollinators, too. We should all hope that bees — honeybees, bumblebees, native bees, all bees — don’t suffer the same fate as the Xerces blue.